10 June, 2018
KUALA LUMPUR - Despite becoming prime minister for the second time with a different party, Dr Mahathir Mohamad is not a changed man, said Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Tengku Hamzah.
The United Malays National Organisation's longest-serving lawmaker said Dr Mahathir is still the same man – despite what many think – who is merely wearing a different shirt now.
“He was like that 23 years ago… I think he is like that now,” said Mr Tengku Razaleigh.
“He’s no longer a dictator? Just see the line-up of the party that was born only a few years ago, but heads the government in Kedah, Perak, Johor and elsewhere, and see the number of seats they have in cabinet,” he told a press conference attended by selected media in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday (June 10).
Though Dr Mahathir’s Bersatu has only 13 parliamentary seats, party leaders hold four key cabinet positions, unlike other parties that won more seats in the May 9 polls.
Bersatu lawmakers are the chief ministers in Kedah, Perak and Johor.
“He (Dr Mahathir) is the same but wearing a different shirt, the old shirt has worn out,” said Mr Tengku Razaleigh.
Some Umno members have in recent weeks called for Mr Tengku Razaleigh to contest the position of president in the upcoming party polls.
This comes after former president Najib Razak stepped down to take responsibility for Umno’s loss in the May 9 election.
Former Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has also announced that he will not vie for any national posts in the party elections this year.
At Sunday’s press conference, Mr Tengku Razaleigh said that Umno should remain a Malay party, disagreeing with suggestions that its membership be opened to other races.
The veteran Umno leader said there is strong sentiment on the ground that the party keep its Malay identity politics.
“We can add one or two non-Malays as members, like some parties have done, and label it as multiracial,” he said.
“But the face is still not multiracial. I can say I’m multiracial because I used to have a non-Malay wife, but I’m not multiracial in that sense.”
He added that the issue facing Umno now is not about whether to open its membership to other races, as the party was born a Malay one.
“It was born like that. Umno was formed by a gathering of Malay organisations in 1946 because of the threat to the sovereignty of the country,” he said, adding that given this, Umno should remain that way.